30 July 2018



July 23rd, 2018:

'He was a paragon of monkhood.'

'Sexual indulgence is sinful for a monk.'

'When his thoughts wavered, he turned to zen meditation to clear his mind.'

'To deny your emotions and to face and overcome them, those are two different things.'

'You may leave the temple but you cannot leave your karma. Your karma is part of you at all times.'

This part-live action, part-beautifully drawn animation Japanese film is either a comedy with a bit of folk horror thrown in or it's a folk-tale with a whopping side-order of hilarity chucked in for good measure. Either way, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and just the right length at seventy minutes, and a right good giggle into the bargain. Here's the deal.

Ninko is a Buddhist monk, living in a monastery with all the other monks, dressed in robes and sandals with shaved heads, doing all the usual things monks do. Sleeping with prostitutes, renting porn movies, engaging in illegal gambling and the odd bit of bestiality, haha. Ah, I'm only kidding. Monks don't do that stuff. They can get all their porn online now...

Okay, so Ninko actually loves being a monk, believe it or not. He gets a giant kick out of practising asceticism, which basically means he's happy having a good old miserable time. He embraces the eschewing of the fleshly and earthly delights- ie, women and sex- and seems to enjoy praying and meditating and scrubbing floors for hours on end without, I presume, any rewards other than the spiritual ones, lol. Oh yes, those are real rewards too, heh-heh-heh.

Ninko has a bit of a problem, though. After all, the film is called 'SUFFERING OF NINKO,' not 'NINKO HAS A BLOODY GOOD TIME OF IT.' It's a bit of a First World problem, his problem being that he attracts women like flies draw shite. I mean, like shite draws flies, lol.

When he goes out to collect alms from the local villagers with the other monks, women flock round him as if he's Elvis or the Beatles or one of those lads. It's hilarious. There's a fantastic montage of Ninko being mobbed by local women to the tune of Ravel's BOLERO, it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen and it's beautifully choreographed as well. And the women all have natural breasts! Not a silicone diddy in sight. 

I don't know whether Asian women actually go in for all the plastic surgery stuff that Western women hold so dear or if they're sensible enough to realise that they're perfect just as they are, but the breasts here are all real, unless I greatly miss my mark. As a part-time owner of breasts myself- my ex has custody of 'em at weekends and Bank Holidays- I can usually tell.

The Head Monk forbids the sexually magnetic Ninko to go out begging for alms. It's just too damn distracting all round. Riots ensue, kind of like when the chicks in the 'Twenties heard that Rudolf Valentino had kicked the bucket. 

Ninko is plagued with guilt. He doesn't understand why women of all ages- and some of his fellow monks!- have the hots for him. It must be something he's doing, right? Maybe he's emitting some powerful sex pheromones or summat. That'd explain it, wouldn't it, plus it wouldn't be anything he'd have any control over.

He thinks this irresistible sexual magnetism he has is his own fault and he needs to be more virtuous and train harder, but he's already quite virtuous and he already trains quite hard, so what's to be done? He does what every man does when faced with a situation he can't handle. He decides to run away. Big man, huh? Run away from problem, no more problem, right?

He decides to go on a journey in order to 're-fashion' himself. But that's if the women will let him be by himself for long enough. And they don't seem to be able to. In the forest where Ninko is trying to 'find' himself, he meets a naked masked woman who tells him:

'When I think of you, I'm overcome with emotion and I somehow feel very hot. Can you release this heat?' When Ninko touches her bare breast, he literally burns the paw off himself and runs away screaming. Again, big man, huh...?

Will this farce never end, Ninko asks himself wearily. I mean to say, if a guy can't stroll through the forest without being mobbed by horny nudie women, what the hell are things coming to? The next person he meets on his journey isn't a horny naked woman at all, it's a sexy male ronin with long dark hair in a ponytail and a whopping great Samurai sword.

He's called Kanzo and he and Ninko hang out together for a bit. Although Ninko gets the hump big-time when Kanzo throws it out there casually, come here a minute, aren't you that horny sex-monk people are always going on about?' It looks like Ninko's reputation as a big swordsman himself has preceded him, heh-heh-heh. And he's none too bloody happy about it either.

While eating with strangers, the pair of them, Kanzo and Ninko, are asked to catch and kill a strange supernatural sorceress woman who haunts the forest and kills men literally by shagging them to death. Nice work if you can get it, eh? I'll see if I can find ye horny devils the sign-up sheet...

Anyway, the sorceress, Yama-Onna, sucks out her victims' vital essences while riding them ragged and she leaves them as an empty shell, like in Stephen Sommers' THE MUMMY films when the titular Mummy sucks the life out of some of the minor characters in order to regenerate himself. It's not a death you want to put in for, trust me.

Anyway, it's up to Kanzo and Ninko to decide if they want to risk a brush with the deadly Yama-Onna or if they want to wuss out, as men are apt to do. Very, very apt, grrr. And will it help Ninko to somehow solve the 'problem' of his being irresistible to women? I don't really see how it could, do you?

Kanzo thinks that Ninko's in denial about the whole sex/women thing, that Ninko wants to f**k a woman as much as women want to f**k Ninko. Kanzo thinks that Ninko should f**k Yama-Onna, the horny sex-mad forest sorceress. After all, she's supposed to be permanently mad for it. Sex, that is. Not crocheting dinky little baby bootees for the orphanage, lol.

Ninko is appalled at the very idea of making the beast with two backs with a ghost. Well, that's what it amounts to. But they've come this far, haven't they? Should Ninko cross the final frontier? And will it make any difference to anything in his life if he does? There's only one way to find out, people. Yama-Onna, horny sex-ghost, here we come...

Ninko is a bit of a big girls' blouse really. If he were in any other profession but the full-time monking, he'd probably be thrilled skinny to have nudie women chasing him down the street as if he were bleedin' Daniel O'Donnell or something.

As it is, his short-sighted decision to run away from the problem only succeeds in his bringing his problem right along with him on his travels. As you'll know yourself if you've ever tried to run away from anything. I tried to run away from a problem once. Judge wasn't inclined to be too understanding. Community service apparently still stands. Bugger.

July 23rd, 2018:

Special Features:
Dual format DVD & BLURAY
45 minute interview with the director
"Strawberry Jam" Short film

Film Festival Official Selections - Rotterdam, Vancouver, Busan, Tokyo Filmex, Gotenberg, Seattle, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Black Movie Geneva, New York Asian, Pune India, Victoria Australia

Norihiro Niwatsukino demonstrates his promising know-how in this iconographic and erotic Edo-era Japanese pastiche that mixes real-life shots with 2D animation and evokes the Hyakumonogatari of the 70s and his stories of ghosts and gender sexploitation.
About the director: NORIHIRO NIWATSUKINO 
Born April 6, 1981, Norihiro Niwatsukino started filming while attending the Kyushu Institute of Design in Fukuoka. After graduating from the Graduate School of Design at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Niwatsukino moved to Tokyo and started working as a freelance director and as a screenwriter. He has directed various video works includes live-action, music video, animation, etc. His short film STRAWBERRY JAM (2010) was invited to various film festivals in Japan. Niwatsukino followed with his first animation series ONIZUSHI. SUFFERING OF NINKO is his first feature film.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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